In 1981, the National Endowment for the Arts played a fundamental role in helping me create Sundance Institute. The NEA generously contributed a $25,000 grant to assist us in launching the very first labs for independent filmmakers to develop new work (programs that continue to this day).
That first promising investment from the NEA, and their belief in my project was vital to launching programs that now support tens of thousands of American artists working in film and theater and new media.
The NEA also very clearly helped us create the Sundance Film Festival, which turned into the leading international showcase for new voices and new artists to launch their work and find audiences for stories outside the mainstream. No one has been more surprised than me at how far it's gone, and today the Festival brings millions of dollars of revenue to Utah over a 10-day period – proving that art can be an economic force.